From the moment Sam Smith turned up to yesterday’s Brits looking like a badly burned spatchcock chicken, there was little chance I was going to be able to relate to much of the evening’s proceedings.
The Brits is a regular fixture on the annual music awards calendar, a celebration of the incredible creative talent that has made the UK the home of the world’s most prestigious artists and entertainers. It remains so today, of course, but for those of us born before the invention of the internet – and for whom streaming once required a net and wellies – watching The Brits today is a little like watching one’s own ostracisation from modern society.
Sitting down to watch the spectacle last night, my wife and I spent much of the evening remarking on how we’d never heard of the artists or bands; how terrifying it was that Harry Styles now looked like an actual man and not the pre-pubescent boy we remembered him being on X-Factor; who Mo Gilligan was; how much free booze was on the artists’ tables; who the hundreds of ‘hangers on’ were and why Lizzo appeared to be wearing a giant pink armchair.
In short, we realised after a while – as our daughter sung along to the performances, unimpressed at our comments – that we had turned into our parents.
We are now as unable to relate to modern day music, as our parents were to the artists and bands we grew up with. I can’t recall my Mum singing along to Nevermind by Nirvana, or Roll With It by Oasis, as we sat together to watch the Brits in the early 1990s. But I probably did, with a feeling of belonging that comes with youth culture and with being a part of something that speaks to your generation.
I once heard a marketing expert talking about the secret to sucessful marketing. He said that you could sell anything to anyone, as long as you included a music soundtrack in the ad from when your target audience was 17.
There’s a reason why the success or failure of music is driven by young people. At any given moment in time, it is young people who embody the modern day zeitgeist and who set the trend when it comes to music. So it’s no wonder that those of us who are a little further down the road can find it hard to relate to modern day music.
Having said that, it’s also ok for us oldies to like the occasional modern day track, if only to embarrass our offspring by singing along, as I did last night to As It Was by Harry Styles, a perfectly decent pop track if you ask me.
But I must leave it there as for some reason, having just seen an ad on the TV for toilet cleaner – featuring Twist and Shout by Chaka Demus and Pliers – I now feel the need to nip to Tesco to stock up.